Happy Friday Everyone! I’ve been looking forward to this day all week, luckily the week flew by! Michael and I are headed to upstate New York to spend the weekend with my family. I’m very excited! I’m working a half day today and then he is picking me up, we’re getting lunch and off we go! It should be a good weekend of relaxing, good food and lots of catching up! We want to run and we may go for a hike too! Sunday my neighbors and friends in Boston are hosting a Friends-giving! Should be a good weekend!
Some of you though are going to have an amazing weekend running the New York City Marathon! I’m so excited for you all, and already can’t wait to read the marathon re-caps! I ran the marathon two years ago, in 2009. It was my first marathon and it was incredible! So I thought I would share some tips, some moments to not miss out on and somethings you should do after the race!
Eat a good meal early and bring a smaller carbohydrate snack and fluids to the start with you.
New York is unique in that you don’t start and end in the same place. I was assigned to the ferry to get to the start. This was amazing and excited me. I did however have to wake up just after 4am to get ready and get to Port Authority in time. I ate my usual oatmeal and bagel with peanut butter and drank Gatorade in the hotel. I brought another bagel, a banana and water and Gatorade to the start with me. And ate again about an hour before the start. This is a MUST! It’s a long morning before the marathon even starts and you don’t want to be hungry on mile 1.
Wear clothes your going to donate and skip the checked bag.
My mom had some fleece pants and a fleece top and an old jacket for me to wear to the start. I had some plastic water bottles I did not care to hold on to for my water and Gatorade. I also brought some garbage bags to sit on. Another must is, a roll of toilet paper. You NEVER want to be without this and I was quite thankful I brought my own since the porta-potties had run out. The lines were very long to check your bag and additionally at the finish the same scenario occurred. I didn’t need anything the morning of and my Dad had a back pack with all the things I wanted post race. They met me at the finish and it was perfect! If you have that luxury go for it!
Soak in every minute at the start, it’s amazing.
There is nothing quite like this experience. All the runners are excited and nervous, you can’t deny the buzz of the crowd. Then they play “New York, New York” over the loud speakers and everyone sings along. Take in every minute of this, it’s incredible. The bridge towering over you, the runners cheering, the nervous pit in your stomach and the sheer excitement you feel…it’s memorable to say the least!
Relax, don’t start out too fast. Take in the crowds.
The first couple miles are up hill because of the bridge. Take it easy, find your stride. Look over at the city and soak in the view…it’s incredible. Look in awe of the fire boats below, the helicopters providing the news coverage and all the security on the bridge. Just get settled, find a good pace and take it all in. You have time! The marathon doesn’t start until mile 20.
Love the Boroughs, The Crowds, The Signs, The People.
I’ve already said this, and I’ll likely say it again. New York City Marathon is amazing. What makes it amazing is how unique each borough, and neighborhood is. The people in New York love this day and as a runner you can tell. The music is amazing, the people cheering are so motivating and the signs are awesome. Every mile is exciting and so different from the mile beforehand. Live it up, this day and all these people are out to cheer YOU on and support YOU!
The Queensboro Bridge is like Hell, but Heaven is on the other side.
I remember getting to Queensboro Bridge and thinking to myself, “Oh this is why they say running a marathon is like running to hell and back.” It’s uphill, there are no fans on the bridge, and it’s covered. It is you and the runners and some medical staff. You can hear the pounding of feet, and the sound of everyone breathing, it’s rhythmic and eerie. The bridge shakes and sways from the pounding of the runners. And about half way through you just want to get off the bridge. And then. You hear the faint cheering of crowds, the pace of the runners slowly picks up. You begin to round the corner, the cheering gets louder. Your running downhill, and the crowds are SCREAMING! You’ve entered Manhattan for the very first time! It’s AMAZING, and INCREDIBLE and quite possibly my favorite part of the marathon! You go through hell, but marathon heaven is just around the corner.
Stay Tough, Stay Strong.
Manhattan is awesome, you’ll fly through to just about mile 20 on pure adrenaline. Then, things can get tough. It’s uphill to the finish, your now running further than your longest training run. It hurts, but stay with it. Tough it out. The finish is amazing. Don’t count down to 26, count down to 23.
Use the crowd and the beauty of Central Park to run the last 3 miles.
The last 3 miles are uphill. Your exhausted. Your legs hurt. You want to be done. Use the crowd to get through this. It’s unlike any other marathon. Seriously. The crowds are almost 10 deep to the finish. It’s loud from everyone cheering. And the runner’s are awesome. You’ll find some motivation to keep going. I was struggling at this point. My feet were cramping, my IT band was so tight. My back was spasming. I stopped to walk and this older woman reached her hand out and grabbed mine. She looked me in the eye, with such a fierce and powerful look and told me I could do it, I was almost there and that I was going to finish this marathon. The exchange in all, took about 5 seconds but I will NEVER forget that woman’s face and her eyes. It was all I needed to push through to the finish. Those last 3 miles are hard but incredible. I hope you all find your moment of motivation to get through to the end.
Don’t be afraid to jump the fence.
The finish area is small. It’s CROWDED, to say the least. You’ll be funneled with everyone else in one direction. Get your heat sheet, and medal and some food. If you’re not doing bag check, look for an escape. The exit is FAR from the finish. If your meeting friends and family at the exit then keep walking but if your meeting them at a restaurant or pre-determined location and it’s south of the finish I encourage you to jump the fence and escape the mayhem. I joined up with a guy who was doing the same, he helped me get over the fence and I was quickly on my way to meet my family.
If running alone have a pre-determined place to meet.
There are tons of people everywhere at the finish. Plan to meet your friends and family at a restaurant or bar near by. This worked best for us, and was the least stressful. Plus I’ll be honest. I really enjoyed the walk from the finish to the restaurant with myself. It was nice to revel in my hard work, the experience and my accomplishment. I also needed some time to get myself together!
Be sure to go out with friends and family to celebrate your big day. Take pictures with everyone and your medal. And eat something sinful! You’ve earned it, and New York City is amazing place to eat food and have a good time!
I did not have my blog then to write a race re-cap but my mom encouraged me to do so. I never did, looking back I kind of wish I had. I guess in a way I am doing it bit by bit here on my blog but I often wonder what I would have written the day after or that night. I’d encourage you to do this. Go buy the New York Times on Monday. It’s a marathon edition and your name and finish time will be printed. It’s amazing to see that. And read the book A Race Like No Other by Liz Robbins. She follows people who have had hardships and running changed their life, she talks with people who are famous for making “their” mile awesome for the runners and talks about the history of the event and New York Road Runners a bit. It’s a great read and I flew through it in the days after the marathon. Lastly, watch the movie Run For Your Life: The Fred Lebow Story. It’s a great story about the Marathon and the history behind it. It will make you appreciate the event in a new way. Plus, it is motivating and will make you want to get out and run!
I wish all of you the best who are running on Sunday! It’s a great race and an amazing experience. Enjoy every minute of it! I can’t wait to read all of the race recaps. I’ll be watching the marathon on T.V. Sunday morning in my parents living room with a cup of coffee in hand! For those who aren’t running, take a minute to think back to memories of your first or favorite marathon, race or running event!